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“Nice getaway” 4 of 5 stars
Review of InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort and Spa

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InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort and Spa
4.5 of 5 Resort   |   Road to Veracruz km 7 | Arraijan District, Panama City, Panama   |  
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Ranked #36 of 111 Hotels in Panama City
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Nice getaway”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2008

This is a lovely resort hotel with great facilities a nice spa and nice food. Rooms are quiet and comfortable, and have great views across the bay of Panama. The beach is nice and well maintained, the pools are also nice, but will probably need to be refurbished soon as there were some cracked tiles etc.

My partner and I came here for a few days at the end of our honeymoon, and while the hotel is very nice and we had a good tiem we were a little disappointed for a few reasons: 1. the resort was much bigger than we were expecting and it really felt like a typical resort rather than the more intimate hotel experience we wanted. 2. There were clearly a lot of guests who were on all inclusive packages, meaning there were a lot of families with kids, and there was not really thre more exclusive feel we wanted. This said, these issues were more related to our expectations rather than the hotel.

On the plus side, the food was very good both the buffet in the main restaurant and the gourmet restaurant with a beautiful sea view had really good selections and high quality food. Unfortunately the gourmet restaurant was never busy and so lacked much atmosphere, but the food and the service was really excellent.

On the down side, our check-in was very poor. It took a long time for them to find our reservation, and at no time did anyone tell us what was happening so we were left worrying that something was wrong - we were not offered to sit down with a drink for example, while it was sorted out. During check-in, we were not told anything about the Club Intercontinental benefits (breakfast in the morning and snacks and aperitifs in the evening) that were included with our room - we only found out a couple of days in after we checked our reservation again after unexpectedly being charged for breakfast (which incidentally we had refunded after bringing it to the hotels attention).

Overall, this is a nice hotel, family resort. Good food, nice location. Not really an intimate, exclusive, romantic getaway.

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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781 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (132)
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English first
Bogota, Colombia
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2008

I had heard that Panama City was not only a great place to stay but a place to shop (you can find better things in the US). When we arrived I remember telling my husband that it felt like we were going back in time.

The city has no sites to visit or see, it is very filthy, not a very nice city to visit, and we didn’t do enough research to know that the best time to go is between December and April because the rest of the year it rains every day and for most of the day.

On the other hand LOCALS are GREAT, they are very nice people to talk to, and they know how to promote their country!! I visited the website before making up my mind about the hotel and it seemed great!! The photos helped a lot and they are actually really good and realistic!!

The hotel is far away from everything. There’s always some transportation available to go into the city, and they rent cell phones so it is very easy to get in touch with your transportation arrangements. A taxi ride into the city costs around 25 dollars into the city and 25 more to the hotel. If you do this, it’s best to take a hotel taxi, it is better.

I have only two complaints about the hotel. My first complaint was with the front desk clerk, she was extremely rude and unpleasant every single time we asked her about anything. The rest of the staff is EXCELLENT!! My second complaint is because we were offered an all inclusive deal and even though the food was great, one night the food was so greasy that I had to order from the menu (the beef is great but very expensive), they try to have a lot of options but sometimes they are not very healthy, and you cannot get thirsty before 11 AM because it is not included and if you try to buy anything , then you have to go through the lecture of being told that you will be charged for it (as if I didn´t already know).

The hotel is wonderful because it is private and it has its own private and very clean beach but you can´t swim because it is not very safe. They have various swimming pools, one for toddlers, another one for children, one with a bar and another one a little bit further for people who are looking for some quiet time (I loved it!!). They also seem to have a lot of activities for children (movies, soccer games, volleyball games, all sorts of activities).

Over all, I loved the place. I had a great time despite everything, but I am not sure if I would select the same hotel if I decided to go back, or even of I decide to go back.

This hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway and for people that are not interested in visiting the city but don't forget to visit the canal, it is great!!

  • Stayed August 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Venice, Florida
Top Contributor
89 reviews 89 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2008

My wife and I were in Panama and had the opportunity to stay here for three nights. Even at our rate of $186/night it was overpriced.

The resort is "OK", but not great in value. The rooms are nice, but nothing great. Upgraded standard hotel rooms are how we judeged them.

The staff is excellent and tries hard to please. we had nothing but good experiences with all of the staf. Many have limited English, but will find someone who has English as a language to assist.

The biggest turnoff to us was the cost of the food at the resort. We paid $50.00 for a lunch that was good, but nothing special. This included a fee for NOT ordering alcoholic drinks. We heard others saying the same about the food costs. Breakfast was $15.00 per person for food only (no beverages), lunch was $20/person and dinner was $30, if you had the buffet. Ordering from the menu was much more.

While it is nice to say we have stayed here, we would not stay here again. In Panama, you can find much better deals for the cost..

  • Liked — Views of the Panama Canal
  • Disliked — Cost of the food
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
northcarolina
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2008

Was in Panama for a group event. Could not understand why this destination was choosen except that the hotel must be outstanding. It was not! At best, compared to a 3-star hotel in the United States. Also, the hotel is a $25.00 cab ride each way to/from the city. The road to the hotel was not paved and full of pot-holes. As we were departing in late June it was being paved. Upon ariving at the hotel, we were surprised that even though the hotel has been finished for a couple of years the front entrance was not complete. The lobby was nice, with a nice view of the pool and ships entering the canal. In addition, the pool was nice, but there are lots of bugs. We were told not to go into the water in the bay, because sewage is dumped from Panama City. We received so many bug bites after 15 minutes on the beach that we had to go inside. The room was just average, however the bed was very comfortable. The tile floors were dirty and didn't appear to have been cleaned for quite some time. Food was adequate, but similar to an Applebees in the US. Nothing to do with the hotel, but outside of the property there is great proverty and did not feel very safe. I would not recommend Panama or this hotel when there are so many other beautiful beach destinations - Bemuda, Mexico, Bahamas, Hawaii.

  • Liked — Lobby
  • Disliked — Could not use the beach because of sewage in bay and nothing to do but stay by the pool.
  • Stayed June 2008
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
oklahoma city
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
21 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
171 helpful votes 171 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2008

Upon arrival, our first impression was that the resort could stand a little paint and was nice, but not 5 star. After the first few days, we changed our minds. The staff was amazing; so friendly and helpful. I spilled red wine the first night on white linen capris, and not only did they come to get them immediately, they actually called to let us know they were working on them, and called again to say they were successful.

Rooms: all looked nice, all with ocean views, and our suite (#537) was beautiful - very spacious, tiled floors, mini-kitchen, incredible view. If you book a suite, know that they are at the far end of the resort on either end, and it's a big resort - lots of walking. Suites and Club rooms have access to the Club Lounge and we found the best breakfast to be there. They also have the most comfortable beds I've every slept on, and with soft down comforters. Select your favorite pillow from their pillow menu! I have a great bed here at home, but when I got back, I sure noticed the difference - the one at the hotel was way more comfortable. Gotta find out where to get one....

Beach: Prior reviews said the beach wasn't pretty. If you're used to the pristine white sand beaches of the Gulf or the Caribbean, maybe I could see that. We thought it was very pretty. The resort is on the Pacific, so the water isn't like in the Caribbean. What we noticed was the beach was immaculately clean, sand was beige, and water temp was wonderful. The bonus was the shells - really nice shells every morning. The water completely covers most of the beach at high tide, so there are shells everywhere when the tide goes back out. Assorted wildlife, too - we saw the resident iguana on the rocks in front of our section of the resort (big guy!), the troop of koatimundi's (sort of like raccoons, very cute) were out back every morning being fed mangoes by the staff, and we even got to see a sloth up close and personal. Apparently one tends to wander onto the resort property occasionally, and the staff extend a long, wooden pole which he (she?) latches onto, and they just carry him back to the trees. He was being carried out of the pool area as I was approaching - what an experience.

Food - pretty good, but every buffet lunch at the Pelican Grill (outside restaurant) was exactly the same. If you order off the menu, expect to wait at least 30 min. And the drink service is almost as slow at both the Pelican Grill and poolside. If you want 2, order them both at once. Lighthouse was great - make reservations; it's the nice restaurant. Can't recommend the Plantation Cafe inside, very limited menu and extremely slow. On our last day there, we discovered the best place to eat was the Lobby Bar. Food arrived quickly, was piping hot, and delicious. The menu there is a bar menu, but the portions are big enough for a meal. Try the fried sea bass fingers. If you want to eat somewhere else without having to go into Panama City, go to Filo's in the little fishing village just past the resort, Vera Cruz. Ignore the guard with the shotgun out front, cause the food is amazing. We were surprised to find such a nice restaurant in the little village, and the owner visits every table. He'll even help you with the menu. Yes, they have one in English, but you'll still need a bit of help if you don't speak Spanish. Lobster and king crab were the best at our table. Have the taxi wait for you.....

Spa: Way better than I expected; actually comparable to Bacara in Santa Barbara. Ask for Mara, she's the best. If she's booked, get Sandra. Exercise area really nice - 6 treatmills, only 2 elipitcals, but all brand new and with built in fans to keep you cool during cardio. Assorted weight machines and plenty of free weights.

Activities: The Canal, obviously. I was much more impressed than I expected to be; it is pretty awesome. Resort is 30-45 min. from Panama City depending on traffic (which is pretty bad there). We liked the tour of the colonial area; they're restoring it and it's going to be really nice when they finish. It will remind you of New Orleans. Gamboa Rainforest arial tram and boat tour were okay, not as much wildlife as expected - the croc sunning himself on the banks was cool, and the Capuchin monkeys at Monkey Island come down to the boat to eat from the guide's hand.

Shopping: Artisan Market is about 20 min. away, all hand-crafted items; it was my favorite shopping. There's modern shopping with all the designer stores in the City at the MultiPlex, but I can do that kind of shopping back home. Note - the street vendors in the colonial area of the city have much lower prices than at the market, but no where near the selection.

Weather: Incredibly hot and VERY humid. Bugs get very bad at dusk, bring LOTS of bug spray. You might also consider malaria meds prior to coming, just to be on the safe side. Panama is known for its mosquitos.

  • Liked — Fabulous room
  • Disliked — Slow service at poolside restaurant and bar
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, FL
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2008

Playa Bonita is located about 15 minutes from downtown Panama City on a beautiful stretch of waterfront. Service was excellent and the rooms were up to par (not the best Intercontinental, but still very nice). In June, there were not many guests and it was generally very quiet (don't expect shows or nightclubs). The infinity pool and swim up bar are extremely nice.

One caution, I would not attempt to drive to this hotel at night if it is your first time in Panama. The hotel is located several miles down a dark stretch of dirt road that is currently under construction. If driving to the hotel, keep a sharp lookout for the first exit after the Bridge of the Americas. Take this exit and follow the road for approx 5 miles. The hotel will be on your left.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 12, 2008

My wife and I honeymooned in Panama. We planned to spend our last 2 nights here as it was close to the city and airport but still on the beach. We left within one hour of arriving.

When we pulled up in our car, no one helped us with our bags. They could not find my reservation even though I had a confirmation printout. It took us forever to get checked in, the staff was not apologetic for losing our reservation, and this was after a 5 hour drive, so we were tired and hungry. The lobby was full of drunk sunburned Americans and the place was crawling with kids, and we felt like we were at a big resort in Orlando, not in Central America.

We had the royal suite at $1200 a night and when we finally got to the room (it was really far from the lobby), the maid was still cleaning from the previous guest, it smelled like air freshener, and there were items from the previous guest left in the room. The room was very big but sterile - not really luxurious at all - just trying to be.

We walked around the grounds, got about 100 mosquito bites, and went to the restaurant to eat. The service was very slow and the food was horrible - dog food, totally inedible. I left without finishing my sandwich and immediately called the Bristol, got a room, and checked out of this place. The good news is that we got a total refund.

Before we got to this hotel, we stayed at the Bristol and Via Camilla, both extremely nice hotels. This place is a joke in comparison. It's really apples and oranges - we went from incredible boutique hotels to this megaresort - it's like comparing Barney's to Walmart. We thought the royal suite at the Intercontinental, which was much more expensive than anywhere else we booked, would be amazing, but it was not. It was gross. This resort is probably good for kids, but for honeymooners looking for isolation and luxury, this is not the place at all. And it's the only place we went in Panama where the bugs were a problem. If I hadn't have gone here, the antimarial prescription would have been a total waste of money.

Panama is an amazing country - but avoid these kind of places if you want to really enjoy it. You can get this same McResort experience in Orlando, or Vegas, or Cancun, without having to fly as far.

  • Liked — They gave us a full refund
  • Disliked — It's just like a huge American resort, with worse food.
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort and Spa

Address: Road to Veracruz km 7 | Arraijan District, Panama City, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Panama Province > Panama City
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#12 Romantic Hotel in Panama City
#13 Spa Hotel in Panama City
#21 Luxury Hotel in Panama City
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort and Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 303
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Everything you need is here at this luxury hotel in Playa Bonita Panama, from golden sands to jungle walkways, infinity pools to 10,000 square metres of tranquil spa. Feel transported in tropical resort seclusion just minutes from Panama City and the wonders of the Panama Canal. Explore the colonial and shopping districts, Punta Bruja Nature Reserve or simply watch the ocean from spacious suites or the Lighthouse restaurant at this luxury resort hotel in Panama. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Intercontinental Playa Bonita Hotel Panama City
Intercontinental Panama City
InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort And Spa Panama/Panama City
Playa Bonita Panama

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